Highlands Museum invites public for a sweet lesson
By Darren Lum
Published March 7, 2017
Learning about the maple syrup production the “old-fashioned” way is as close as the Haliburton Highlands Museum this coming March break.
The local museum will be boiling sap, which was collected from maple trees on the property, using its 115-year-old cauldron to make maple syrup from Saturday, March 11 to Sunday March 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and taking questions related to the process, its history and significance to area settlers.
Museum director Kate Butler, who has worked there for the past five years, welcomes the public to learn first-hand what it takes to boil sap into maple syrup.
The week-long offering of maple syrup production is a favourite of children and young at heart, as it brings people back every year.
“Seeing their interest in it stay strong year after year I think is great,” she said.
Granted, there are tricks learned during the process of doing it every year, but she believes the actual process is very approachable for people.
“For people to realize that and to be able to connect to our early settlers in that way and do something that people would have been doing here 150 years ago is really exciting for people. In particular, for people who may not have been exposed to that part of the tradition before,” Butler said. “Kids absolutely love it. I mean, really, it’s sugar in a cup.”
Beyond the obvious enjoyment shared by children and adults, there is an important lesson from the old-fashioned method of making maple syrup that comes up regarding nature’s ability to provide people with a food source.
“It’s this give and take between us and the natural world around us, which is so important for us to understand,” she said.
There will be crafts available for children all week at the museum, but also three afternoon drop-in programs for children from March 14 to 17.
Experience the simplicity and joy of participating in the Victorian Games Afternoon, which is on from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 14.
“Not every game has to have batteries. Not everything has to plug into the wall,” Butler said.
There will be outdoor activities, similar to those children would have done for fun before television.
Also, the museum plans to teach and host “parlour games” in the case of weather that forces everyone inside.
One example is a memory game called Kim’s Game. Its origins are from a Rudyard Kipling book.
A collection of objects are placed on a tray for a child to see them for a certain amount of time to study before the tray is covered. One variation calls for the removal of an item, leaving the child a challenge to name the item removed. Another calls for the participant to remember all the items without being able to see the items on the tray.
“It really builds concentration skills. It’s a fun challenge. It amazes me with kids who will actually remember the [finest of] details,” Butler said.
Like last year, South Algonquin Trails will bring its horses for children to ride down Museum Road to the Glebe Park entrance and back to the museum. There will also be outdoor activities, horse-themed crafts and a possibly a horse shoe game.
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the museum’s Life of a Leprechaun afternoon from 1 to 3 p.m. on Friday, March 17. Learn about the origins of St. Patrick’s Day, which revolves around a slave, who arguably was part Italian and part Welsh. He not only brought Christianity to Ireland in the 5th Century, but was also legendary for how he led snakes out of Ireland. Also, look for “gold” during the scavenger hunt on museum grounds. Dive into crafts based on the theme of the emerald Isle’s famous holiday.
“It’s just to get people in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day. It’s the day when everyone wants to be Irish so we figured we could help them along with that,” Butler said.
Everything offered here, she said, is tied to the history of the county, as outlined by the museum’s mandate to educate about the area and its people. Equally important to the museum is to make the experience of visiting a fun and memorable visit.
“Fun is paramount because coming to a museum, if you have a good time, whatever age you are, you’re going to remember this is a fun place you’re going to want to come back again,” she said.
Registration for the museum’s offerings are not required and admission is by donation. Participants are recommended to dress for the weather. Activities can be augmented or moved indoors for extreme weather, but if at all possible children can expect to be outside and playing games. Craft activities will be available for children all week, even outside of the three scheduled events in addition to the maple syrup demonstration and the display cases of artefacts of the museum.
Telephone 705-457-2760 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The museum is located at 66 Museum Road off of Highway 118 in Haliburton.